Do You Smell What the Saints Are Cooking?
The number one free agent at the tight end position has obtained a new home with the New Orleans Saints. Jared Cook, the soon-to-be 32-year-old phenom of a player, signed a two year deal with the Saints worth $15.5 million. He is guaranteed $8 million in the 2019 season, so watch for him to be an integral part of the New Orleans offense.
Cook will be going into his 11th year in the league, and at his age has astounded many. Over his career, the 6-foot-5, 254-pound athlete has been on five different rosters. When this happens, it is normally a red flag because it means the player is a journeyman whom coaches cannot get a feel for. This is not the case when it comes to Cook. Just by looking at stats alone, you can recognize he is an impressive player. He just needs to be used correctly in order to get those incredible stats, and that has not always been the situation.
Last year, Cook had his best campaign to date. He completed the season with 68 receptions for 896 yards and six touchdowns. Cook happened to get his first invite to the Pro Bowl while also becoming the Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr’s preferred target.
Cook appears to be a solid fit for the New Orleans offense. Benjamin Watson has retired, so Cook will fill the void left by his departure. The former Raiders tight end could become the most prolific tight end in the Saints offense since Jimmy Graham back in 2013 and 2014 (when he had 171 receptions total and 2,104 yards to go along with 26 touchdowns). Cook’s touchdown numbers do not remind anyone of Graham’s numbers at that time, but now with a capable quarterback, he should see the touchdown receptions increase.
There are a few downsides when it comes to Cook. Like previously stated, he has not been associated with touchdowns. He has not accumulated more than six touchdowns in a season, so that is something to keep in mind. Cook has played with Aaron Rodgers before, and his numbers were not all that exciting while in Green Bay.
Still, there is a feeling he will be on the same page with veteran quarterback Drew Brees. His stats should improve in the touchdown department. Another concern some have with Cook is that he is not the greatest blocker. The Saints have that covered with both Josh Hill and Taysom Hill doing the blocking that is needed, so Cook should be able to get free downfield.
Becoming a member of the Saints organization is positive for both the team and for Cook himself. Brees already has two remarkable weapons in wide receiver Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara. It will be pleasing to see the quarterback gain another red-zone threat.
When Cook was with the Raiders, he was Carr’s go-to guy. This meant that the defense covered him more than other players, yet he was still able to obtain impressive statistics. Now he is on a roster that has two bonafide studs catching passes, so look for Thomas and Kamara to resume being covered like they were in 2018. This will more than likely leave Cook with numerous openings down the field. He has been known to force tackles to be missed and to gain plenty of yards after catch (361 yards last season), so Brees will be thrilled with the production there.
For fantasy football purposes, Cook seems to be an exceptional selection at the tight end spot. In his 2018 campaign, he achieved 193.6 fantasy points total in PPR leagues. When it came to the 2017 season, his numbers were still impressive, recording 132.8 fantasy points in the same format.
Fantasy Football Calculator has Cook going at an ADP of 8.12 as of March 27, 2019 (based on mock drafts). The next tight end that is being drafted is Trey Burton at 9.03. Cook is on the upswing right now due to his signing with the Saints, but we will have to wait and see if that signing bump dies down closer to the season. He is clearly in the TE1 realm. Not to say he will be the number one tight end overall, but he is going to give you loads of TE1 games while playing with Brees and company this season.
Being a huge advocate of waiting a bit on tight ends, Cook could be the guy who fits in beautifully on your fantasy team this forthcoming season. He is in the ideal location and has all the skill needed to be a significant part of fantasy rosters. Cook will be worth taking a chance on in 2019.
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